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7 Tips for Taking Sensational Selfies



By Stacey Ross

Selfie!! Got your attention?! I'll bet you think this post is about you, don't you? Don't you? I might have dated myself there.

Our obsessed digital world has many turning the cameras on themselves with the intention of sharing the photos on social networks – so much that the growing trend made a name for itself as Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2013! Like it or not, the reality is that while some go haywire on the exhibitionist front, others are embracing creative methods to express themselves to the extent that their arm allows them!

The convenience and ease of taking self-portraits was not such a simple task in the past, but I remember the opportune moments that my husband would so accurately capture our adventures. (I sucked at it, btw!) With one arm around me and one arm extended, he pointed and clicked – in the sky, on the water, in the rain or in the snow – and those photos have become the best keepsakes! When it was inconvenient to find someone to take a photo of us, we could always count on Steve to capture our moment.

Through the storyteller's eyes...

While I could live without the duck lip poses and bathroom funeral selfies, I realize that we have grown technologically, and that the selfie has become a popular means to capture a glimpse of one's life story – one that just might evoke something in others, something that inspires, entertains, engages or even shocks! It shares someone's natural habitat (if you will), and can add an edge of creativity and insight that the storyteller can tell best. It is visual and personal, and that potentially makes for good viral content!

If your wish is to attract eyeballs (because it certainly can be an effective means of driving traffic), read some experts' tips on how to improve your selfie, all by your selfie!!

1. Shed excess weight almost instantly!

Social media educator and founder of Marketing Melodie, Melodie Tao, shared with her colleagues secrets that many marketers might not ever wish to: “Wooohooo! I Lost 15lbs in 15 minutes! It's that easy! And also proof that ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos are misleading. On the left ‘before’ photo, I zoomed in and was slouching and sticking my stomach out. Fifteen minutes later on the right 'after' photo, I zoomed out, stood up straight and threw in the ‘skinny arm on hip trick!’ You can now see how much we actually have control, even before Photoshop is used!”

2. Consider the lighting

“The best light is in the first and last two hours of the day,” says fashion photographer, Carlotta Moye. “Turning your back to the sun creates a halo style effect around your head which can be very flattering.” She suggests using the fill-in flash function outside during the day, which fills in shadows.

Moye continues, “At night time, shoot with a flash but make sure your make-up is a touch heavier. Try shooting with no flash sometimes; you’ll be surprised how the shadows can work to your advantage.”

If a mirror or glass is in the photo, you will likely see a light if you have your flash option on, so try to use natural light whenever possible or edit out the glare.

3. Improve your headshots immediately

I have found that selfies which show someone engaged in thought, or include something stunning or captivating, demonstrate a touch of artistic expression that puts them in the "original" category. What emotion are you trying to share with the masses? Demonstrate that message, so that the focus goes far beyond the flesh.

Two amazing tips I am sold on: Photographer Peter Hurley says that so much is in the “squinch” – a way to express your eyes so that you portray confidence vs. sharing a wide-eyed look at the camera. Also, accentuate your jaw line to improve the quality of your images by moving your neck forward.

4. Take off the phone cover

I had not realized that photo quality is compromised if you leave the phone cover on, but this is what I have read from many sources! “You’d be surprised at the difference in clarity with and without a cover,” shares Julia Jacobson, founder of fashion marketplace NMRKT for thefashionspot.com. “Although there’s a hole in the cover for your camera lens, it catches the camera focus in the periphery, causing the image to be slightly less clear. It’s like night and day when I take my cover off and just shoot with the phone itself.”

5. Use your arm to frame the best image

Fully extend your arm and slightly raise it. You will avoid the double chin look and extend your head, prompting your eyes to enlarge a tad (good for photos). Oh, and do not forget to relax your shoulders or you will look stiff!

The key here is to consider the image behind you or stand purposely in front of it. Sometimes that precise image behind you, interestingly enough, is what tells the true story. Or you can remove unwanted background people or objects with an app like Remove.

I am not a huge fan of mirror selfies, however they come in handy for certain fashion shots or tutorials. Tip: Bathroom shots (I mean the ones showing sinks or showers) typically kill the buzz!

6. Play around with lenses and filters

It might be easier to reverse the lens but sometimes the lighting is better and the image appears more candid when you extend your arm and just snap away from the non-view side. I use the free app Photo Grid on my Android phone, but apps such as Facetune or Photoshop Touch can be helpful in perfecting your image, if you don't mind paying a few bucks for some added apps. Use Frontback to give a bigger picture. This photo app creates two-photo diptychs using the front and rear cameras of your iPhone.

7. Sensor your kids!

Lastly, the mom in me comes out. (Oh yes, she did!) I have mixed emotions about encouraging kids to regularly express themselves via selfies if their main purpose is to be pin-up-type posers (not my cup of tea for the kiddos).  I find it better to focus less praise on the vanity aspect and more on the artistic and story-making side, because what happens is that kids tend to pose and pucker up as if they are in a popularity contest, an unhealthy method of seeking validation often resulting in risky behavior.

On the other hand, I praise my kids when they direct their tablets at themselves to capture their tutorials, dance moves, fashion creations, school projects, etc. For the most part, I am an advocate for artistic expression, and technology enables a plethora of creative possibilities – all at an arm's distance!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.



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